Lien vers Pubmed [PMID] – 35969599
Lien DOI – 10.1371/journal.pbio.3001736
PLoS Biol 2022 Aug; 20(8): e3001736
During outbreaks, the lack of diagnostic “gold standard” can mask the true burden of infection in the population and hamper the allocation of resources required for control. Here, we present an analytical framework to evaluate and optimize the use of diagnostics when multiple yet imperfect diagnostic tests are available. We apply it to laboratory results of 2,136 samples, analyzed with 3 diagnostic tests (based on up to 7 diagnostic outcomes), collected during the 2017 pneumonic (PP) and bubonic plague (BP) outbreak in Madagascar, which was unprecedented both in the number of notified cases, clinical presentation, and spatial distribution. The extent of these outbreaks has however remained unclear due to nonoptimal assays. Using latent class methods, we estimate that 7% to 15% of notified cases were Yersinia pestis-infected. Overreporting was highest during the peak of the outbreak and lowest in the rural settings endemic to Y. pestis. Molecular biology methods offered the best compromise between sensitivity and specificity. The specificity of the rapid diagnostic test was relatively low (PP: 82%, BP: 85%), particularly for use in contexts with large quantities of misclassified cases. Comparison with data from a subsequent seasonal Y. pestis outbreak in 2018 reveal better test performance (BP: specificity 99%, sensitivity: 91%), indicating that factors related to the response to a large, explosive outbreak may well have affected test performance. We used our framework to optimize the case classification and derive consolidated epidemic trends. Our approach may help reduce uncertainties in other outbreaks where diagnostics are imperfect.